National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version

Spring 2006


Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council 7:1, Spring/Summer 2006. Copyright © 2006 by the National Collegiate Honors Council.


Can there be anyone in the honors community or higher education who has not been assaulted by campus assessment initiatives in the recent past or the present? The current agitation surrounding this topic is equaled only by the absence of clear ideas about the purpose or utility of assessment. While assessment’s proponents believe that its aims and virtues are obvious, most of the academic community is either vexed or bemused by the whole thing. How has higher education arrived at this juncture, and where are we going in regard to assessment? I will try to give some answers to these questions. As will become obvious, at least in the state of Washington assessment began as a political issue and in response to “public” concerns about higher education, but it is increasingly driven by pressures internal to higher education itself. Additionally, it is not at all clear that assessment is measuring anything meaningful.